Monday, March 29, 2010

Reenergizing Biz by Taking Care of ME

Okay I'll admit it...I lost my groove a few weeks ago. No blogging. Less Tweets. My right arm feels like it has carpal tunnel from just having my hand on the mouse instead of the keyboard.

Like many small business owners do from time to time I had fallen into a daze and stopped moving forward.  Granted it was somewhat warranted with a parent having a heart attack, my kid struggling in a few classes, being sick a few weeks,  the horrible extended winter in Atlanta and the fact that some of my clients were struggling too.  I'm sure you can relate.

No matter what the situation a business owner just can't ignore their business or it will fall apart. I knew this and was desperate to get back in the groove. So I tried the usual stuff for me -

I tried writing.
I tried blasting loud music.
I tried networking.
I tried making lists.
I tried reading motivational and inspirational literature.
....and more.

Nothing worked. I finally gave up and gave in.

I left the office early and went for a long long walk by the Chattahoochee River. When I pulled in the parking lot there were ducks swimming in a puddle instead of the river. The water was moving fast from the recent rains. People were happily chatting. I was happy and energized.  I wanted to work.

It occured to me that I simply had forgotten to take care of myself. How could I take care of my business and clients without taking care of myself.  Over the last few weeks I've left the office early on slow days so I could ride my bike on the Greenway. I've ordered great organic foods and tried new receipes. I've also done the most reenergizing thing for me -- started my vegetable garden.

The results of those dinners, rides and digging are new clients, new business leads, open dialogue with clients and a much more clear vision of what I want for my business. 

Today I'd like to encourage YOU to take a walk outside instead of staring at that computer screen. It might just have a huge result on your bottom line.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Create Reality: Business Lessons from a Homeless Man

A few days ago I was downtown Atlanta with a client walking back to his office after lunch. We had stopped on the corner waiting on the light to change when a man approached us and entered our conversation. He had a blank piece of paper and pen in hand. As he talked with us he drew this beautiful picture of a barn. He told us that he was an artist and that he was going to produce a television program and become famous. (Hey crazier things than that have happened on the streets of the ATL. You’ve heard about Tyler Perry.) He asked for a blessing and I gave him what I had - $5.

As I walked to my car I thought about how he might be crazy or he just might be brilliant. It’s a fine line, one that many an entrepreneur walks. He’s stuck in my mind. He was articulate, well groomed and obviously talented. This man was taking what control of life he could, making the best of it and creating his own reality.

As someone who primarily works with mid-sized business owners and entrepreneurs, I’ve found the one thing they all have in common is that they create their own reality and take control of destiny. Successful business owners don’t sit around waiting for someone to find them and their brilliant idea – they hustle much like the man on the street corner.

What traits do the successful entrepreneur, growing business and this guy on the corner share?

Appearance - The guy on the corner looked and acted like someone I’d have over for dinner. He presented himself well. The same goes for a business. To attract customers you have to be attractive to them. Communication messages and tactics should be strategically crafted with the customer in mind and presented to them on a level that will elicit the desired response …. The blessing.

Enterprising Spirit - He didn’t wait for the City of Atlanta to empty the donation for the homeless meters, the guy on the street approached us. He wasn’t threatening or overly aggressive but he demonstrated gumption as my mother would say. The same applies to business. You have to physically reach out to your customer and ask for the sale.

The Goods – Simply put you have to have a product or service that the customer will value. At times you have to create value around your product or service. (That’s marketing) The picture of the barn, conversation, statement of goals and alike all helped to create a product with a perceived value. I treasure that picture now because of the story.

Expertise – People want to do business with people with promise – experts. Our new friend established himself as someone special, an artist, someone with goals through his story and demonstrating his talent in front of us. He was proud and highlighted his best attributes making him more attractive to us. He made himself someone we wanted to know. Businesses need to use the similar communication tools and opportunities to highlight their best attributes and expertise. A client recently spoke about his expertise at a conference and it was mentioned in social media, the presentation was recorded, the slides are going online, and it will be talked out in the customer newsletter. We are establishing him as an expert to his customers who weren't even at the conference.

There’s a lot that can be learned from the guy on the corner if you are willing to follow a homeless man.

The artist's name is Tim Harris and he is apparently touching lives of people here in Atlanta. Here’s another blog posting that mentions his work Keep an eye out for him….I have a feeling you’ll be able to learn more.

And for those who like to Google – Tim Harris is also the name of an advocate for the homeless.